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US Open 1906, Chicago = 7th Western Champ.
Compiled by Phony Benoni
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<7th Western Championship
Chicago, Illinois
August 20th-September 2nd, 1906>

This almost turned into something big.

With the death of Pillsbury earlier in 1906, the U.S. title became vacant. The Western Chess Association proposed to invite all the country's leading players to a tournament to decide the matter, to be held in Chicago during the Association's annual meeting from August 20-25.

According to the <Brooklyn Daily Eagle> of July 29, 1906, the invited players included:

"J.W. Showalter, Frank J. Marshall, John F. Barry, Franklin K. Young, Albert W. Fox, Hermann Helms, Walter P. Shipley, Eugene Delmar, Louis Uedemann, William E. Napier, E. F. Schrader, Julius Finn, E. P. Elliott, F. N. Stacy, Magnus Smith and A. T. Bigelow."

While the Eagle's chess columnist Hermann Helms gave his approval to the idea, it never had a chance to come off. It was simply naive to expect sixteen players from across the continent to come to Chicago with less than a month's notice and play up to fifteen games in six days. The Good Ol' Boys of Excelsior were used to that pace, but it would never do for such an important event.

There were had to be questions about the selection of players. Marshall was in Europe, and could not return in time. The West seemed too heavily represented, and what was Magnus Smith of Winnipeg doing on the list? Manitoba may have been part of the Western Chess Association, but that didn't qualify him for the United States title.

Not to mention, of course, that the Eastern clubs were scandalized by the hubris of the Western upstarts. By the time of Helms' next weekly column on August 5th, it was obvious the idea would be kiboshed, though there was an attempt to do it quietly:

<"From the action taken by the board of directors of the Brooklyn Chess Club in connection with the championship of the United States, it may be assumed that the proposal of the Western Chess Association to take charge of the title and submit it for competition during its annual meeting in Chicago, this month, is not to go unchallenged.

"Evidently, the Western Association is not considered by the East sufficiently representative in character to father the project and a more national organization is now sought for. Then, too, it is thought here that a national contest would be a farce, if Marshall were not given an opportunity to play therein and, as the Brooklyn master is reported engaged in the pending international tournament in Nuremberg, he could not very well be in Chicago the latter part of this month.">

Instead, the Brooklyn Chess Club sent out an circular to all established clubs asking their opinion on whether a national organization was needed to decide such questions. The Western Chess Association, and in particular their president George B. Spencer, regarded this as an act of hostility, as Helms' column of August 19 makes clear. It's too long to quote the whole thing here, but you can read it at: http://fultonhistory.com/Newspapers...

Animosity continued to linger, as Helms' wrote in his column of August 26, 1906:

"Seemingly with the intention of stealing a march upon the East, George B Spencer, of St Paul, and president of the Western Chess Association, has incorporated the National Chess Association, naming himself as president thereof, and using, without authority, the names of J. H. Watson, as vice-president, H. Helms, as secretary, and A. G. Beyer, as treasurer. This action on the part of the St. Paul man has placed the Easterners named in a false light before the chess players of the country, and an explanation is being patiently awaited."

Eventually Spencer offered the explanation that he had used the names of Helms and others as a friendly attempt at conciliation by giving them influential posts in the new association. The back-and-forth continued, but we're getting away from the real topic of this collection.

The tournament itself, played for the title of Western champion, started with twenty players split into two preliminary sections, with four players from each qualifying for the final. However, it appears that most played only eight games, probably due to the tight schedule.

PRELIMINARY SECTION 1

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 Frank N Stacy X 0 1 - 1 1 1 1 1 1 7.0 2 Louis Uedemann 1 X 0 1 1 - 1 1 1 6.5 3 Edward Schrader 0 1 X 1 - 1 1 1 6.0 4 George H Wolbrecht - 0 X 1 1 1 1 1 6.0 5 Roy G Fitzgerald 0 0 0 X 1 1 0 1 1 4.5 6 John Winter 0 - 0 0 X 0 1 1 1 3.5 7 W G Hine 0 0 - 0 0 1 X 1 0 0 2.0 8 Einar Michelsen 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 X - 1 2.0 9 William Widmeyer 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 - X 1 2.0 10 Kalman Erdeky 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 X 1.5 <PRELIMINARY SECTION 2> 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 Magnus Smith X 1 1 1 1 - 1 1 1 7.5 2 Julius C Eppens 0 X 1 1 - 1 1 0 1 1 6.0 3 Harry Fowler Lee 0 X - 1 1 1 1 5.5 4 Charles W Blake 0 0 X 1 1 1 1 - 5.0 5 J V May 0 - X 1 1 0 1 4.5 6 F I Sunderland 0 0 - 0 0 X 1 1 1 1 4.0 7 Harsen D Smith - 0 0 0 0 X 1 1 1 3.5 8 F F Wilcox 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 X - 1 2.0 9 John W Clark 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 - X 0 1.0 10 J W Cowles 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 0 1 X 1.0

The Finals produced an exciting finish. In the last round, Lee caught up to Smith by defeating him as Wolbrecht joined them by winning his fifth game in a row after starting with two losses.

FINAL

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 1 Harry Fowler Lee X 1 1 1 0 1 5.0 2 Magnus Smith 0 X 1 1 1 1 5.0 3 George H Wolbrecht 0 0 X 1 1 1 1 1 5.0 4 Charles W Blake 0 X 0 1 1 1 4.0 5 Louis Uedemann 0 0 0 1 X 1 0 1 3.0 6 Julius C Eppens 1 0 0 0 X 0 1 2.5 7 Edward Schrader 0 0 0 0 1 1 X 0 2.0 8 Frank N Stacy 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 1.5

<CUMULATIVE SCORES (FINAL)>

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Lee 1 2 2 3 4 4 5 2 Smith 1 2 3 4 5 5 3 Wolbrecht 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 4 Blake 1 2 2 2 3 3 4 5 Uedemann 0 1 2 3 3 3 3 6 Eppens 1 2 7 Schrader 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 8 Stacy 0 0 1 1

It was decided to play a double round robin between the three tied finishers. Spencer later disputed this by claiming that preliminary scores should have been carried over, which would have made Smith the champion. Once again he didn't get his way; indeed the name of George B. Spencer seems to drop out of the history of the Western Chess Association after all the brouhaha.

PLAYOFF

1 2 3 1 Magnus Smith XX 10 11 3.0 2 George H Wolbrecht 01 XX 11 3.0 3 Harry Fowler Lee 00 00 XX 0.0

The tie was finally resolved when Wolbrecht won a tiebreak game from Smith to secure the title.

All 35 games from the Final and Playoffs are available, making this the best documented of any of the early Western Championships/US Opens.

THE MAN OF THE HOUR: http://books.google.com/books?id=3C...

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<Sources>:

American Chess Bulletin, September 1906, p. 176-186.

Chess Results 1901-1920 / Gino di Felice, p. 69

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 29, 1906, p.5; August 5, 1906, p.4; August 19, 1906, p.7; August 21, 1906; August 26, 1906; August 28, 1906; September 2, 1906; September 9, 1906.

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NEXT: Game Collection: US Open 1907, Excelsior = 8th Western Champ.

SEE ALSO: Game Collection: US Open Index Collection

Final, Round 1
E Schrader vs L Uedemann, 1906
(C61) Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense, 32 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 1
M Smith vs J C Eppens, 1906 
(C61) Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense, 66 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final, Round 1
F N Stacy vs C W Blake, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 58 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 1
George H Wolbrecht vs H Fowler Lee, 1906
(C30) King's Gambit Declined, 29 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 2
J C Eppens vs C W Blake, 1906
(C63) Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense, 55 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 2
H Fowler Lee vs E Schrader, 1906
(D52) Queen's Gambit Declined, 41 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 2
M Smith vs G H Wohlbrecht, 1906
(C42) Petrov Defense, 28 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 2
L Uedemann vs F N Stacy, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 26 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 3
C W Blake vs L Uedemann, 1906
(C71) Ruy Lopez, 28 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 3
E Schrader vs M Smith, 1906
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 41 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 3
F N Stacy vs H Fowler Lee, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 40 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final, Round 3
George H Wolbrecht vs J C Eppens, 1906
(C61) Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense, 46 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 4
J C Eppens vs L Uedemann, 1906
(C74) Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 41 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 4
H Fowler Lee vs C W Blake, 1906
(A10) English, 66 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final, Round 4
M Smith vs F N Stacy, 1906
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 33 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 4
George H Wolbrecht vs E Schrader, 1906
(C42) Petrov Defense, 59 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 5
C W Blake vs M Smith, 1906
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 34 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final, Round 5
E Schrader vs J C Eppens, 1906
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 38 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 5
F N Stacy vs George H Wolbrecht, 1906
(C42) Petrov Defense, 47 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 5
L Uedemann vs H Fowler Lee, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 57 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 6
J C Eppens vs H Fowler Lee, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 72 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 6
E Schrader vs F N Stacy, 1906
(C49) Four Knights, 39 moves, 0-1

FInal, Round 6
M Smith vs L Uedemann, 1906
(C71) Ruy Lopez, 38 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 6
George H Wolbrecht vs C W Blake, 1906 
(C78) Ruy Lopez, 37 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 7
C W Blake vs E Schrader, 1906
(C43) Petrov, Modern Attack, 36 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 7
H Fowler Lee vs M Smith, 1906
(D60) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 57 moves, 1-0

Final, Round 7
F N Stacy vs J C Eppens, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 47 moves, 0-1

Final, Round 7
L Uedemann vs George H Wolbrecht, 1906 
(A00) Uncommon Opening, 41 moves, 0-1

Playoff
George H Wolbrecht vs H Fowler Lee, 1906 
(B45) Sicilian, Taimanov, 18 moves, 1-0

Playoff
H Fowler Lee vs M Smith, 1906
(A13) English, 78 moves, 0-1

Playoff
H Fowler Lee vs George H Wolbrecht, 1906
(D50) Queen's Gambit Declined, 47 moves, 0-1

Playoff
M Smith vs H Fowler Lee, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 62 moves, 1-0

Playoff
M Smith vs George H Wolbrecht, 1906
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 53 moves, 1-0

Playoff
George H Wolbrecht vs M Smith, 1906
(D63) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 39 moves, 1-0

Tiebreak game
George H Wolbrecht vs M Smith, 1906
(C84) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 86 moves, 1-0

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